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Why Have Girls Gone to College? A Quantitative Examination of the Female College Enrollment Rate in the United States: 1955-1980

  • Hui He


    (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics)

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This paper documents a dramatic increase in the college enrollment rate of women from 1955 to 1980 and asks a quantitative question: to what extent can such increase be accounted for by the change in the female cohort-specific college wage premium? I develop and calibrate an overlapping generations model with discrete schooling choice. I find that changes in the life-cycle earnings differential can explain the increase in the female college enrollment rate very well. Young women's changing expectations of future earnings may also play an important role in driving their college attendance decision.

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Paper provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 201016.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 17 Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hai:wpaper:201016
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  1. Diego Restuccia & Guillaume Vandenbroucke, 2012. "The Evolution of Education: A Macroeconomic Analysis," Working Papers tecipa-446, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  2. He, Hui, 2012. "What drives the skill premium: Technological change or demographic variation?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1546-1572.
  3. Gary S. Becker & William H. J. Hubbard & Kevin M. Murphy, 2010. "The Market for College Graduates and the Worldwide Boom in Higher Education of Women," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 229-33, May.
  4. Per Krusell & Lee E. Ohanian & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull & Giovanni L. Violante, 1997. "Capital-skill complementarity and inequality: a macroeconomic analysis," Staff Report 239, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Averett, Susan L. & Burton, Mark L., 1996. "College attendance and the college wage premium: Differences by gender," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 37-49, February.
  6. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Ming-Ching Luoh, 2002. "Gender Differences in Completed Schooling," NBER Working Papers 9028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Lawrence F. Katz & Kevin M. Murphy, 1992. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963–1987: Supply and Demand Factors," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(1), pages 35-78.
  8. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," NBER Working Papers 9732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Attanasio, O. & Low, H. & Sanchez-Marcos, V., 2004. "Explaining Changes in Female Labour Supply in a Life-cycle Model," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0451, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  10. Goldin, Claudia & Kuziemko, Ilyana & Katz, Lawrence, 2006. "The Homecoming of American College Women: The Reversal of the College Gender Gap," Scholarly Articles 2962611, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Carlos Garriga & Mark P. Keightley, 2007. "A general equilibrium theory of college with education subsidies, in-school labor supply, and borrowing constraints," Working Papers 2007-051, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  12. Fang (Annie) Yang & Suqin Ge, 2008. "Accounting for the Gender Gap in College Attainment," Discussion Papers 08-02, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
  13. Hendricks, Lutz & Schoellman, Todd, 2009. "Student Abilities During the Expansion of U.S. Education, 1950-2000," MPRA Paper 12798, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Raquel Fernández & Alessandra Fogli & Claudia Olivetti, 2004. "Mothers and Sons: Preference Formation and Female Labor Force Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1249-1299.
  15. Salvador Navarro, 2011. "Using Observed Choices to Infer Agent's Information: Reconsidering the Importance of Borrowing Constraints, Uncertainty and Preferences in College Attendance," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20118, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  16. Thomas Lemieux & David Card, 2001. "Going to College to Avoid the Draft: The Unintended Legacy of the Vietnam War," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 97-102, May.
  17. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
  18. José-Víctor Ríos-Rull & Virginia Sánchez-Marcos, 2002. "College Attainment of Women," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 965-998, October.
  19. Jonathan Heathcote & Kjetil Storesletten & Giovanni L. Violante, 2010. "The Macroeconomic Implications of Rising Wage Inequality in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(4), pages 681-722, 08.
  20. Virginia Sanchez Marcos, 2007. "What accounts for the increase in college attainment of women?," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(1), pages 41-44.
  21. John Bound & Sarah E. Turner, 1999. "Going to War and Going to College: Did World War II and the G.I. Bill Increase Educational Attainment for Returning Veterans?," NBER Working Papers 7452, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Claudia Olivetti, 2005. "Changes in Women's Hours of Market Work: The Role of Returns to Experience," Boston University - Department of Economics - Macroeconomics Working Papers Series WP2005-008, Boston University - Department of Economics, revised Jun 2006.
  23. Imrohoroglu, Ayse & Imrohoroglu, Selahattin & Joines, Douglas H, 1995. "A Life Cycle Analysis of Social Security," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 83-114, June.
  24. Jacob, Brian A., 2002. "Where the boys aren't: non-cognitive skills, returns to school and the gender gap in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 589-598, December.
  25. Zvi Eckstein & Éva Nagypál, 2004. "The evolution of U.S. earnings inequality: 1961?2002," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Dec, pages 10-29.
  26. Stephen V. Cameron & Christopher Taber, 2004. "Estimation of Educational Borrowing Constraints Using Returns to Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(1), pages 132-182, February.
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